In a month of humidity and heat, this year’s green curtain is gradually filling in. There are now eight vines, and the banana tree providing a green wall between home and city.
Plants growing everywhere, people building shacks and hanging out on rooftops, narrow alleys.
I’ve posted photos and written about this flower wall garden for The Plant, a visually stunning semi-annual magazine about urban nature. Even in winter, the garden is so colorful. Really, it is one of Nakano’s most incredible personal gardens, with hundreds of flowers covering the three story facade.
On Nakano Dori, just above Sasazuka, I marveled at this ingenious wall garden. I love that this gardener has created three horizontal layers of pots: on the sidewalk, on the suspended shelves, and on top of the cinderblock wall. There are also several levels of trees popping up from the micro space between the home and the wall. Along with the notice board and the bike parking, the garden shows how to maximize a limited space.
This one stretch of wall at Shiba Koen, with the towering trees above it, provides a rare glimpse into Tokyo’s architectural past.
What a happy classroom taught by professor owl. Yuki spotted this cute diorama in the gap space in a resident’s cinderblock wall, between Nodai and the Kyodo station. What a tiny surprise.
Does your local florist include mini-apples in their arrangements? It’s very common now in Tokyo, and I think it adds a fun element. This wall vase I made at Shiho ceramic studio.
I like this before and after photo set. It shows an apartment building green space that sits between the ten story building and its two story neighbors, homes and a plumbing supply business. It borders a small street that is mostly pedestrian.
The garden has a mix of flowering vines, bushes, bulbs, and a row of pine trees that were probably planted 35 or 40 years ago. The utility pole support is borrowed infrastructure for training a vine upwards.
The photo above was taken October 24, 2011, and the one below November 23, 2011. Above you can see all the fullness of summer: lush foliage, pink and red flowers at every height level, a blurring of the boundary with the neighbor’s garden.
A month later, the 3 story tree has been heavily pruned, which lets light in during the cold months. All the plants have been cut back, and you can see the wall separating the properties.
The maintenance is a mix of semi-professional gardeners hired by the apartment building and a retired couple living in the garden apartment. Although far more restrained in winter, the garden continues to bloom in every month, no doubt because of their efforts.
In preparation for the November Shiho students’ ceramic show, I am expanding from flowerpots to wall vases. This is what they looked like after I connected the slabs together. Later comes trimming and carving, baking, glazing, and second baking. I am experimenting with reversing front and back, and how to angle the box that holds the water and flowers.
There’s something utilitarian and magnificent about this row of hundreds of commuter bikes lined up outside JR Tokyo’s Ryogoku station on a hot summer afternoon. The sun bakes in this concrete canyon, and even the salary men are wearing short sleeves.
I am so impressed with the utter simplicity of this residential garden. Using practically no space, this vertical garden consists mostly of one well trimmed magnolia tree and a vine that screen the home. I don’t know whether credit should go to the rain-soaked climate or a smart home-owner. This house shows what’s possible in terms of ample plant growth in the most minimal of urban spaces. With more of these gardens, Tokyo would see lower summer temperatures, more wildlife, and a great quality of urban life.
Liquor shop’s green wall captures attention at JR station in Nishi Ogikubo.
I like this green wall surrounding the Dila liquor shop as you exit the Nishi Ogikubo JR station. It brightens up the station entrance and draws attention to the shop. It looks like the same type of wall system and plants that Marui uses inside its Shinjuku san-chome store and in the basement near the subway.
I hope this trend catches on, and more commercial spaces see the benefits of green walls. It would be great to see a greater variety of plants, rainwater catchment and re-use, and habitat creation. For now, any green wall catches attention, but perhaps soon there will be more experimentation and creativity.